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Digital Evidence: Successfully Identifying and Acquiring Electronic Evidence to Combat the CSI Effect Webinar
Friday, November 18th, 2016
11:00 AM PT/12:00 PM MT/1:00 PM CT/2:00 PM ET

This webinar is approximately 90 minutes long.


Sex Crimes investigations have changed significantly in recent years. Some of the positive changes we see are a result of a better understanding of the impact of trauma on sexual assault victims and how to incorporate that knowledge into Department policies, procedures and protocols. However, another aspect to improving investigations and prosecutions is educating first responders and investigators about the complexity of these investigations and what steps can be taken to improve case outcomes.

Technology changes extremely quickly and law enforcement faces significant challenges to keep up. With the glamorization of policing in Hollywood, law enforcement is battling to address the CSI effect infiltrating our courtrooms.

Given the common delays in reporting crimes of sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence, traditional forms of corroboration such as medical and physical evidence may be limited or non-existent in some cases. Law enforcement must be open to other types of evidence that can be used to support their investigations. For example, electronic evidence is an avenue that law enforcement can often successfully utilize in both stranger and non-stranger investigations. Tapping into the digital life of the offender; crafting search warrants for cell phones, computers, tablets, social media and conducting pre-text (one party consent) communications are just a few of the ways to successfully combat the CSI effect. This presentation will include examples of sanitized search warrants used in actual cases to advance an investigation.


Following the webinar, participants will be better able to:

  1. Recognize the different types of digital media that might be available (preservation letters, video, phone records, phone texts, cell phone tower information, social media)
  2. Understand how to legally seize electronic evidence by utilizing warrants that include requests to not just seize, but examine any evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant
  3. Develop a theme for the pretext communication and discuss what mode of communication might work best (e.g., phone calls, texting, email)



Picture of Elizabeth DoneganElizabeth Donegan, Sergeant Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration Unit Supervisor, Austin Police Department

Sergeant Elizabeth Donegan is a 24-year veteran of the Austin Police Department (APD). For over nine years she led the APD Sex Crimes Unit, widely recognized for its progressive approach toward investigating sexual assault, providing better service to victims, and changing the culture surrounding the investigation of non-stranger sexual assault. Sgt. Donegan is a member of the Austin/Travis County Sexual Assault Response Resource Team (SARRT). The APD Sex Crimes Unit was recognized for its progressive approach by Human Right Watch in their 2013 report, Improving Police Response to Sexual Assault. Sgt. Donegan currently leads the APD Sex Offender Apprehension and Registration (SOAR) unit.

Sgt. Donegan recently served as an expert panelist for the Response System Panel, a federal advisory committee which conducted an independent review and assessment of the systems used to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes involving adult sexual assault and related offenses under military law. She has also trained and presented at a number of training events and conferences hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense, including the U.S. Army Summit, programs at Ft. Hood and Ft. Sam Houston, and ongoing training conducted at Ft. Leonard Wood. She is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Sgt. Donegan serves as a subject matter expert for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) on projects related to sexual assault response and investigation, including the National Law Enforcement Leadership Initiative on Violence Against Women and the roll-call training series, How To Bring Sexual Assault Offenders to Justice: A Law Enforcement Response. She is a published author and frequent presenter at conferences and seminars. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the first Professional Impact Award given by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) in 2011.

Picture of Michael CrumrineMichael A. Crumrine, Sergeant Homicide Unit, Austin Police Department

Sergeant Crumrine is a founding member and current President of the Lesbian and Gay Peace Officers Association - Austin, which is the first, and only Lesbian and Gay Peace Officers Association in Texas. Detective Crumrine has written on the subject of Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQ community; detailing ways law enforcement can improve their response to the LGBTQ community so victims feel supported and believed by the criminal justice system. He currently lives with his partner and daughter in Austin, Texas.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2015-TA-AX-K015 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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